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Ec Transport Council

Volume 175: debated on Tuesday 26 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the outcome of the meeting of the European Community Transport Council on 18–19 June.

I attended the meeting of the European Council of Transport Ministers which was held in Luxembourg on 18 to 19 June. My hon. Friend the Minister for Aviation and Shipping was also present.I am particularly pleased that the Council adopted a second package of measures which seals the commitment to the liberalisation of air transport in the European Community by the end of 1992.The new package builds on the first set of measures agreed in 1987. It contains arrangements for setting fares which introduces an element of double disapproval and simplifies the existing zonal system; further relaxes the limits on capacity sharing; and eases access to the market. The Council accepted the need to deal quickly with predatory practices; agreed principles against which air cargo services should be further liberalised; and agreed to open aviation negotiations with the EFTA countries.The Government welcome this second package. We have taken the lead in pressing for maximum progress, and the agreement which we have won will give airlines greater scope to respond to market demands. The way is open for airlines to offer greater choice to consumers.On shipping matters, the Council adopted resolutions highlighting the importance of safety on ferries, in the light of recent tragic accidents; and on pollution at sea. It was agreed that a regulation on block exemptions for consortia should be adopted by the end of the year. There were discussions, but no agreements, on cabotage, and on the transfer of vessels between EC registers. The Commission gave a report on implementation of the 1986 measures on liberalisation.A conditional agreement was reached by the Council on a further ad-hoc programme to December 1992 to support the development of certain transport infrastructure projects. This is subject to the resolution of outstanding questions on the scope of the programme and the way in which it will be operated.On inland transport the Council agreed to abolish minimum hire periods for vehicles without drivers and restrictions on hire of vehicles under 6 tonnes by own account operators. Discussions were held on measures in the event of a crisis in road haulage; road haulage quotas for 1991 and 1992; the maximum length of road trains; road safety; and fiscal harmonisation and the proposed German lorry tax. The Commission reported the state of play in the negotiations between the Community and Switzerland, Austria and Yugoslavia over third country transit.Among the items discussed briefly under "Other Business" were air traffic control, transport relations between the two Germanies, European high-speed railways and the alignment of Community and AETR (the European agreement concerning the work of crews of vehicles engaged in international road transport) rules on drivers hours. The Commission responded favourably to a United Kingdom request for regular reports on implementation of EC transport legislation.